PSC awaits lower alert level before resuming training

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is now in waiting mode on when the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will lower the alert level status in Metro Manila amid a spike in the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.

The PSC was supposed to clear the national athletes of training inside its facilities beginning Monday.

But training has been deferred with the so-called NCR Plus area, composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite, currently under Alert Level 3.

“With the present situation, we are evaluating that most probably when the IATF lowers the alert level that allows us to resume practice, then we can practice in PhilSports [Arena], where there are eight venues and more or less 10-12 in Rizal [Memorial Sports Complex],” PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez said in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday.

Ramirez recently talked to PSC Medical and Scientific Athlete Service chief Randy Molo, executive director Guillermo Iroy, and chief of staff Marc Velasco before arriving at the decision.

“For us to start here, we will not risk the lives,” Ramirez added. “I know the coaches are worried about the athletes kasi kung matutuloy [ang Southeast Asian Games] sa May, halos tatlong buwan [lang sila magte-train], pero reality yun (because if the SEA Games push through in May, they only have almost three months to train, but that’s the reality). We have to live with it.”

He also confirmed that the said venues remain as quarantine facilities now following the Covid-19 spike.

Under Alert Level 3, contact sports events including practices are not allowed unless conducted inside PSC or Games and Amusements Board-approved bubbles, while non-contact sports practices are allowed on a 50-percent capacity limit in the training centers.

Meanwhile, sports practices are allowed in areas under Alert Level 2 without the need to form a training bubble.

Ramirez said the PSC has allowed some athletes to undergo bubble training in other provinces even as it keeps on monitoring the training on gymnast Caloy Yulo and pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena overseas.

The Alert Level 3 status in NCR Plus will end on Saturday, but the possibility of it being extended is looming as cases continue to go up at a fast pace.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque even floated the idea of Metro Manila being placed under the more stringent Alert Level 4, although some experts later said that there is no need for now.

The three-day streak of posting record-high new Covid-19 cases was snapped on Tuesday when the Department of Health reported 28,007 new active cases, lower than the highest single-day 33,169 infections reported on Monday.

The positivity rate is also lower at 44.5 percent, although it can be noted that the lower numbers are due to the lower number of tests done over the weekend.

The 28,007 new cases are the third most reported amid the pandemic even as the number of confirmed cases has moved up to a little more than 3 million in total.

Meanwhile, OCTA Research fellow Guido David said despite Metro Manila being in a “severe outbreak” level in terms of the average daily attack rate, the reproduction rate slowed from 5.65 two weeks ago to 5.22 last week, a potential sign that the active cases might begin to dwindle very soon.

Ramirez hopes that the IATF will place Metro Manila back to Alert Level 2 by next month so that the athletes based in the province can finally train again.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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